Sheriff’s department mobilizes in Samburg

Sheriff’s department mobilizes in Samburg

Posted: Friday, May 6, 2011 9:06 pm

Staff Reporter
Monday night’s meeting of the Samburg mayor and board of aldermen has been canceled due to flooding, a new emergency shelter has been opened for Reelfoot Lake area residents evacuated by high water and the Obion County Sheriff’s Department has mobilized with an around-the-clock presence at Reelfoot Lake.
Those are just three of the latest developments in this week’s ongoing flooding dilemma in Obion County.
Obion County Sheriff Jerry Vastbinder told The Messenger today he has dispatched an emergency communications center that has been set up at the Sunset Boat Ramp on Lake Drive in downtown Samburg.
Deputies are staffing the communications van around-the-clock and are on the scene at barricades set up to block all but essential vehicle traffic along Lake Drive.
Vastbinder said his deputies have gone door-to-door to houses from the spillway through Samburg and all the way up Highway 157 and provided residents with informational handouts to deal with the flooding situation.
He said the possibility of floodwaters breaching levees in the region prompted his decision to mobilize his department to reach out to residents of flooded area around Reelfoot Lake.
Vastbinder said he would continue to operate 24-hour patrols in the Samburg area until the flood waters recede. He said the floodwaters are expected to crest by Sunday.
Sheriff’s patrols are also being operated in the Walnut Log area, which has also been hard hit by flooding.
“We’ve got deputies at the communications center and at barricades,” Sheriff Vastbinder said, adding that he has received good response from residents of the area.
“The water is basically stable … it went up about 1/100th of an inch overnight,” he said.
Vastbinder reported there are 47 houses along Lake Drive that are surrounded by floodwater.
“We will stay there until Lake Drive can be driven on safely,” Vastbinder said. “When the water recedes, we’ll pull back.”
He said the communications center at Samburg is being used to view daily updates from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service, Tennessee Valley Authority and other emergency services agencies.
The updates come in at 10 a.m. daily.
Also, Vastbinder reported to The Messenger that officials with TEMA and FEMA were in the Samburg area Thursday and were scheduled to return today to perform property assessments on flood damaged buildings.
Samburg city recorder Mary Swain told The Messenger Monday night’s meeting has been called off due to the high water conditions in Samburg.
Many of the residents along Lake Drive, which extends from the eastern city limits of Samburg to the spillway, have evacuated their homes due to rising water.
The campground area just east of the spillway has also been evacuated and is shut down.
The Reelfoot Youth Camp on Kendall Road just west of Shawtown has been opened as an emergency shelter.
The local chapter of the American Red Cross has opened the shelter for residents across the west side of Obion County affected by flooding.
The shelter has cots, hot food and shower facilities available for evacuees.
Meanwhile, the Obion County Highway Depart-ment has been delivering sand, which is being used to make sandbags for the Samburg area.
Today marks the third consecutive sunny day for Obion County, but there is a chance of rain in the local weather forecast. There is a 50 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms Saturday, with up to half an inch of rain possible during the day. The probability of rain drops to 30 percent Saturday night and Sunday is forecast to be mostly sunny.
Local and state officials will continue to monitor the Mississippi River water levels and flooding across the region over the weekend.
Just north of Obion County, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers detonated the last outflow crevasse north of the Hickman, Ky., area in southwest Kentucky Thursday afternoon.
The impact from that detonation will be closely monitored throughout this area.
According to the Corps of Engineers, the rains over the past two-week period is 600 percent above normal.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by e-mail at

Published in The Messenger 5.6.11

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